Best Succulents For Low Light Conditions
Succulents are diverse plants that come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. There are rosette-shaped succulents (they literally grow like a rose), succulents with healing sap, flowering succulents, and more.
They are popularly used to spruce up both the garden and the house.
Succulents are some of the most low-maintenance plants as well. They require watering once a week and some can even go a couple of weeks without care.
There are also several species of succulents that can tolerate a wide range of lighting levels, from bright to low.
Indoors, plants experience lower light conditions than they would outside. Due to this, some succulent species might suffer.
Fortunately, there are also many that can easily be made to feel at-home; literally!
Keep in mind, succulents, like other plants, require a certain amount of light to thrive. When deprived, there are a few negative signs that they will show.
First, the succulent will grow more slowly. When it goes too long without the light that is necessary, the succulent will begin to stunt and even discolor badly.
Limbs will become misshapen, weak and wiry.
There is a happy-medium that can be achieved with care, luckily. This involves choosing succulents known for adaptability, as well as providing at least the minimum lighting necessary.
This can be achieved through careful placement near windows, or with the use of grow lamps.
Read on to learn about some of the most beloved indoor-friendly succulents, and how to give them the best care.
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
This succulent possesses sword-like leaves, which are 1-8 feet in length. The pointed tips are humorously said to resemble the sharp tongue of a disapproving mother in-law.
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue has green leaves with a yellow border; its sister, the Snake Plant, is very similar to the Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, except that the leaves feature green bands rather than borders of yellow.
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue leaves grow in gorgeous formations, which are said to appear star-like.
The plant was cultivated in Chinese gardens, and gained swift popularity. It was believed to bring luck and more to those who included it in their garden.
Some hold to this still today, while most grow the plant simply for its ornamental appearance.
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue is happiest with a moderate amount of watering in the warmer months, and less water during the Wintertime.
When grown out of doors, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue should be planted in relatively sandy soil. When kept indoors, the plant should be provided with a well-draining potting mix.
All-purpose cactus potting soil will do nicely.
Known for its versatility, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue can live in direct sunlight and shade alike.
Keep in mind that full shade can stunt the growth of Mother-In-Law’s Tongue.
When kept indoors, most any lighting will do for Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. Areas as bright as a window-sill, or more shadowed spots of the room, like a bookcase or countertop, will likely work.
Tiger Aloe (Gonialoe Variegata)
The Tiger Aloe has the knife-shaped leaves and healing sap shared by more common Aloe varieties, while boasting a much more exotic look.
Tiger Aloe leaves start in the center of the plant, and push older leaves outwards as they grow. This creates a spiral effect that is truly picturesque.
The leaves are a deep green, distinguished by mottled streaks of lighter greens and whites. These stripe-like markings are what earned the Tiger Aloe its name.
They are doubtlessly what made the plant so desirable, as well; you see, Tiger Aloe was one of the first Aloe plants chosen to be kept in the home.
Like you would with any Aloe plant, water your Tiger Aloe relatively infrequently. Allow the dirt to dry between waterings, in order to avoid root rot and similar risks.
Cactus potting mix indoors or sandy soil outdoors are recommended for the Tiger Aloe.
Tiger Aloe grows best in the sunlight while it is still young, yet it becomes more adaptable over time. A Tiger Aloe can in fact withstand fairly low lighting conditions.
Outside, Tiger Aloe relishes full sun, but will also accept partial shade. Because the succulent is small (once again, with only 4-6 inch leaves), it must be placed up high indoors in order to reach light from the window. Otherwise, a grow lamp is a fine alternative.
Holiday Cactus (Schlumbergera Truncata)
The Holiday Cactus earned its named with its flowering time, which is between November and January. Since so many holidays fall during this time, the blossoms almost seem like a part of the festivity!
These blossoms come in several colors, including lavender, pink, orange, yellow, and white.
As a native to the tropical forests of Brazil, the Holiday Cactus grows on rainforest trees. This makes it an “epiphyte,” which is the name for plants that grow on other plants and trees.
This may sound parasitic, but the Holiday Cactus does not actually feed on the tree. Rather, it attaches itself shallowly to the outer bark, and subsists harmlessly off of animal droppings and rainwater alone.
The Holiday Cactus possesses a rare beauty. Contrary to its name, the Holiday Cactus is not actually a cactus at all. Rather, it is a succulent, with thick, waxy leaves that grow in segments.
These leaves grow on branches that can reach up to 3 feet, which hang down artfully.
As touched on above, the Holiday Cactus blooms once a year, between the months of November and January.
Those that bloom in November are known as the Thanksgiving Cactus, and those that bloom in December, the Christmas Cactus.
Some are confused when their “Christmas Cactus” consistently blooms at Thanksgiving time. This is thanks to plant sellers who use the names interchangeably.
In order to ascertain a Holiday Cactus is the strain that you think it is, look to the leaves.
Those of the Thanksgiving Cactus will have sharp ends, while those of the Christmas Cactus will have rounded ones; a distinction that is small, but key.
When it comes to caring for the Holiday Cactus, remember that it is not in fact a cactus. Rather, it is a succulent, and requires watering more frequently than a cactus.
Water your Holiday Cactus moderately, allow it to dry out partially, and water again. Do not let it become totally dry, but also avoid watering in excess; the Holiday Cactus should never sit in water, as it becomes prone to root rot and similar risks.
The optimal climate of the Holiday Cactus is 65-70 degrees, though some variation is okay.
For the Holiday Cactus, opt for either a commercial cactus potting soil, or a regular soil and sand mix (approx. ⅔ soil, ⅓ sand). The idea is to provide a well-draining soil.
Though bright light is the preference of the Holiday Cactus, this succulent can adapt to low lighting conditions with relative ease.
In fact, direct light, even from a window, can burn its leaves, which are very sensitive. Low light eliminates this risk.
Ensure your Holiday Cactus still has access to some light, whether it be faint indoor light or that of a plant lamp; either work. Keep in mind that, when the Holiday Cactus is kept in low light, flowering is less likely.
Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis Baccifera)
The Mistletoe Cactus has plump, drooping stems, which branch off into more stems.
These can reach up to 6 feet in length. The effect is stunning; Mistletoe Cactus looks like the long, wild head of hair of a forest nymph.
Found in the rainforests of Florida, Brazil and Mexico, Mistletoe Cactus is another “epiphyte,” meaning it grows on other plants and trees.
In the wild, the Mistletoe Cactus is most-often found attached to leaf debris in the nooks and crannies of trees.
Water frequently, but not to excess; the Mistletoe Cactus should have toes that are damp, but not wet, as this will otherwise increase the likelihood of root rot and similar risks.
Mistletoe Cactus, like the Holiday Cactus, is not in fact a cactus at all. Rather, it is a succulent, with a marked dislike for the hot, bright sun that true cactuses love.
Rather, the Mistletoe Cactus is accustomed to life in the shade of the great rainforest canopy.
This gives the plant a natural preference for shade, making it ideal for the home. Mistletoe Cactus can be planted pretty far from any windows before a grow lamp is necessary.
Ox-Tongue was so-named because its leaves are long and tongue-shaped, and rough like the tongue of a cow.
Its botanical name, Gasteria, refers to the flowers, which are sac-like and said to look like stomachs. Ox-Tongue has a unique, even strange look, with thick, bumpy leaves that arch and then sprawl as they grow.
The leaves may look tough, but in reality they are very sensitive. Specifically, the leaves do not like water to spill on them, and can react poorly.
In the summer, water Ox-Tongue generously, but allow the soil to dry between each time. When winter comes, reduce watering considerably, but do not stop entirely.
Since Ox-Tongue has shallow roots, this succulent does best in dishes that are also shallow.
Provide your Ox-Tongue with a quality cactus potting mix.
The plant does not like direct lighting, which will quickly show with yellowing leaves. Indoors, Ox-Tongue prefers cool rooms with filtered sun or partial shade.
Fox Tail Agave (Agave Attenuata)
The Fox-Tail Agave gets its name from a single tall flower stalk that rises and then falls back to the ground, sometimes accompanied by another arch, in a fashion reminiscent of the tail of a fox.
The leaves range between pale silver-green and bright blue-green. Sometimes the leaves will even have some natural red or yellow.
What really draws the eye to the Fox Tail Agave, however, is that it grows in the shape of a rosette; indeed, the Fox-Tail Agave resembles nothing so much as a great green succulent-rose.
As a drought-resistant plant, the Fox-Tail Agave does not require a great deal of watering.
Enough to keep the soil from drying out completely will suffice. In the wintertime, infrequent watering is all that is necessary. The soil should ideally contain sand and gravel, to drain easily.
Cactus potting mix will do fine.
Though the Fox-Tail Agave will tolerate full shade and full sun alike, partial shade is its preference. The plant also favors room temperature.
This makes the succulent a good choice for keeping indoors, out of full sun, and safe from chilly days.
Try to move the Fox-Tail Agave to brighter window areas for at least a part of the summertime.
Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum Ternatum)
Woodland Stonecrop is an evergreen wildflower, with small, pretty blue-green leaves and delicate, star-shaped white flowers. These flowers grow atop up to 6” spires.
Woodland Stonecrop, as its name implies, it often found growing in the forest, on top of rocks. The succulent has a particular liking for riverbanks, ravines, and other shaded areas.
In these places, it is known to create gorgeous mats of greenery and flowers.
While the plant is still growing, water it weekly. In overly-dry conditions, the plant can become spindly. This is unlikely to be a concern indoors, where overwatering becomes more of a possibility.
Woodland Stonecrop has an especial need for a well-draining soil. Outdoors, this can translate to rock gardens, sandy soil, etc.; indoors, the succulent does well in a quality cactus potting mix.
Woodland Stonecrop can do well indoors, thanks to its natural propensity toward shade.
The succulent must be kept a safe distance from the window, so it does not receive light in excess, yet near enough the window to receive the filtered light and partial shade it requires to thrive.
Bear Paw (Cotyledon Tomentosa)
The Bear Paw plant has bright green or gray succulent leaves, which are adorably rounded and chubby. These leaves are covered in a fuzz that is soft and fine, with red-brown teeth at the edges.
These characteristics look like fur and claws, and are doubtlessly what got the Bear Paw its name. Yellow, orange, red and pink flowers can appear on healthy Baw Paws.
When kept indoors, the Bear Paw should be watered well and then allowed to dry. Water again once the dirt has been allowed to dry.
Underwatering the Bear Paw can cause the fat leaves to shrivel in an unsightly way. Alternately, if the Bear Paw is watered too frequently, it becomes prone to root rot and similar risks.
The Bear Paw should be potted in a well-draining medium, like cactus potting mix.
In the wild, Bear Paw grows in bright places with partial shade. If you wish to keep a Bear Paw in your home, situate it close to a window.
The Bear Paw does not require direct sunlight, and can also be kept a little ways away from the window. Grow lamps are also a sound indoor lighting choice.
Lace Aloe (Aloe Aristata)
The Lace Aloe has thick, dark green leaves, which grow in the shape of long knives. These leaves are decorated with white marks and soft white spines.
The Lace Aloe appears to be a dwarf compared to many other Aloe varieties, and does not grow very large.
Flowers can appear on the Lace Aloe in early summer. This is more likely to occur if the Aloe is kept at no more than 50 degrees for at least the latter part of the wintertime.
This will give it the break from growth necessary to conserve energy for flowers. Otherwise, the Lace Aloe is usually most comfortable in a room temperature to warm space.
Pot the Lace Aloe with commercial cactus potting mix, or a ⅔ by ⅓ mix of regular potting soil and sand, respectively.
Water the Lace Aloe weekly, roughly, and between these times, allow the dirt to dry.
Indirect, bright lighting is ideal for the Lace Aloe. Indoors, consider situating this succulent near an East or West-facing window.
Zebra Plant (Haworthia Attenuata)
This wild-looking succulent has long, spear-like dark green leaves. These have white bands much like the stripes of a zebra.
This gives the plant a really wild look. Some folk opt to keep the Zebra Plant in a unique container or pot, to make it into even more of a statement piece.
The Zebra Plant stays small and dainty, and grows very slowly.
Amazingly, the Zebra Plant can be watered as little as once monthly, if necessary. This is because, in their native, subtropical habitat, the succulent sometimes goes without rain for prolonged periods of time.
Watering once a week or once every couple of weeks, however, is ideal. Water well, and before you repeat, always let the dirt dry.
Succulents of all kinds are prone to root rot, and the Zebra Plant is no exception. Simply follow these rules to watering and you will not have to worry.
The Zebra Plant actually requires very little care in general, and can make a hassle-free addition to any garden or house. The little succulent is also popular as a decor gift, since it possesses both aesthetic appeal and hardiness in spades.
While the Zebra Plant can handle many different lighting levels, the line is drawn at both direct sunlight and full shade.
In direct sunlight, the Zebra Plant will turn unhealthy colors due to burns; in full shade, it will waste away over time.
Fortunately, anywhere indoors with reasonable window-lighting will do. As with any indoor plant, invest in a grow lamp if you intend to keep the Zebra Plant away from windows.
Pearl Plant (Tulista Pamila)
Like many succulents, the Pearl Plant grows in a rosette-formation, which means that the leaves appear in the middle and push outwards spirally, much like a rose.
The olive-green to brown leaves are covered in raised white tubercles. These look something like unsharp spikes, and they give the Pearl Plant a very striking appearance that is largely to thank for its popularity.
The Pearl Plant is known for its use in both healing poultices and soaps.
Like a classic succulent, the Pearl Plant is most at home in well-draining soil, such as cactus potting soil mix or ⅔ regular soil with ⅓ sand, respectively.
Saturating the dirt and letting it dry is the best way to go about keeping the Pearl Plant watered properly.
The Pearl Plant prefers indirect, bright lighting, so be sure to keep it around windows or under a grow lamp if you wish to keep it indoors successfully.
String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus)
String of Pearls lives up to its romantic name, with long, thin stems covered in bubble-like leaves; the pretty succulent does indeed look like a nature-inspired necklace.
These leaf-strands will hang out of a pot as they grow, reaching as much as 2 feet in length.
String of Pearls is capable of creating small white, fuzzy blooms. They are not too flamboyant aesthetically, but they are said to be scented very sweetly.
Like most of its succulent counterparts, String of Pearls is drought-resistant naturally. Specifically, String of Pearls is accustomed to heavy rainfall followed by dry spells.
To mimic this indoors, water your plant perhaps once a week. This will allow the soil to dry before the next time, effectively preventing root rot and the like.
Cactus potting mix will help ensure that your String of Pearls is able to drain as it needs to. This is important with virtually all succulents.
String of Pearls can be kept in low light conditions indoors by providing the plant with a grow lamp for company.
This will help ensure that the String of Pearls still receives the direct light it prefers to thrive.
As you can see, there are plenty of wonderful succulents which can tolerate and even thrive in low light conditions. The only real limit with them is improper care.
Simply provide these succulents with the proper, quality soil, and water them as directed.
Even in low light conditions, with these small efforts, you will be rewarded with watching your truly beautiful and unique plant grow.